August 22, 2009

Forgoing the Fringe

I could blame it on the fact that I live on the Upper West Side and most of the shows for the New York International Fringe Festival are all the way downtown. Or I could fess up to the fact that while I can appreciate simple staging (shout out to David Cromer’s Our Town) I have an admittedly snobbish preference for shows with more polished production values. Or I could even invoke the tropical weather that has caused my favorite activity this past week to be lolling on the terrace—a glass of crisp rosé in one hand, my new Kindle in the other (I’ve been having a dandy time clicking through “Supporting Player," Richard Seff’s memoir of being an actor and agent in the Golden Age of Broadway during the 1950s and 1960s and I wish more theater-related books were available for downloading).

But the truth of the matter is that we're one week into the Fringe Festival and I haven't seen any of its shows because there are simply too many of them for me. Deciding which ones to see is too much of a crapshoot: with snake eyes likely to be more common than boxcars. So I’ve contented myself with reports and reviews about the festival. The invaluable nytheater.com has reviews—or previews
of all 201 shows (click here to read them). The New York Times chimed in yesterday, focusing mainly, although not solely, on a 75-minute revival of the 1967 musical How Now, Dow Jones (click here for that). But if you’re still trying to decide what to see, then your best bet might be the list the helpful folks at Critic-O-Meter have put together, grading the most talked-about shows of the festival (click here to check it out).

So go (there's a whole week left) enjoy yourself (tickets are generally around $15) and if you don’t run into me at any of them, know that I’ll be toasting your adventurousness.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should try to see 666 - one of the most imaginative productions I've seen. And fun!

Leonard said...

would have loved to have seen you at the blogger networking meetup tonight. steve loucks speaks so highly of you. I have put you on my blogroll -- if you're so inclined I'd love to be on yours.

Leonard J.

jan@broadwayandme said...

Leonard, I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the meetup as I'd hoped to do but as they say in On The Town, "we'll catch up some other time." In the meantime, I've added you to my blogroll, which I should have done when I added you to my personal RSS feed, which I did ages ago. Albest, jan

p.s. Steve is one of my very favorite people

Anonymous said...

I attended at least one play every day of the Fringe - and I live in Washington Heights. Yeah - it was a pain because I never know how the A train is going to run; I gave myself LOTS of time and ended up getting from 181 to W4 in 30 minutes or less each time. I too was overwhelmed with the selection, so chose a few recommended earlier by NY Magazine (Gay Lincoln one of them - and sold out immediately), and then selected by category. You're right - it's overwhelming but I had the time of my life. I've attended the Fringe in Minneapolis the past few years and must say the NY Fringe (this is my first) is MUCH more professional - and interesting. My two cents.

jan@broadwayandme said...

Anonymous, I'm so glad you enjoyed the Fringe and so grateful that you took the time to comment about it here. I'm already feeling some twinges of regret about my decision to skip the festival. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some of the best shows will have afterlives. In the meantime, thanks again for you valuable two cents, jan